A better future for all Australians is possible, but to get there we each need to play our part to respond to the wound in our nation. When we hear statistics about Indigenous disadvantage and listen to people’s stories of pain and injustice, most of us have a natural desire to do something,
to make things right. But many of us don’t know how! There’s actually quite a lot you can do to make a difference. Responding will look different for different people. Consider your response to the lingering injustice in our nation and start playing your part in a better future today.
What can I do?
Most of us think that ‘doing something’ to address Indigenous injustice and disadvantage should look a certain way, like building schools, giving money or even traveling to remote communities. While these things have their place, we invite you to think outside the box...
Visiting a remote Indigenous community might be the right thing for one person, but it’s not realistic for everyone. In fact, it wouldn’t be helpful for everyone to respond that way! Indigenous people make up less than 3% of the Australian population, so close personal relationships with Indigenous Australians just aren‘t possible for every non-Indigenous person.
For everyone, responding is about finding ways to live out togetherness.
This might look like a face-to-face relationship, but it could also be about developing a sense of togetherness. At its most basic, togetherness means recognising our connectedness, understanding other’s reality, validating others‘ concerns and experiences and recognising that our freedoms (or lack thereof ) are interlinked. We believe a sense of connection and togetherness is the first step to addressing the wound in our nation and overcoming the lingering injustices of colonisation.
How do I respond?
The way you respond will depend on things like your interests, location and influence; personally and professionally. Your response will be whatever feels right for you. It may be searching for more knowledge, sharing conversations with family and friends, attending a cultural event or becoming involved in advocacy.
Watch this video about starting where you live
Why should I listen and learn?
A response as simple as listening and learning can make a real difference. In fact, one of the most powerful ways you can make a difference is increasing your awareness and understanding - about our shared history, Indigenous culture, the importance of treaty, constitutional recognition, land rights and other justice matters.
When you take it upon yourself to listen and learn, you ease pressure on Indigenous people who currently bear the burden of increasing awareness amongst non-Indigenous Australians. Taking time to listen and learn about history and culture can also provide a crucial foundation to begin to build respectful relationships when the opportunity arises.
Although it might not seem like much in light of the challenges, awareness in and of itself can be incredibly powerful, particularly if you share your learning with others. A change in attitudes and behaviours is what’s important.
Finding ways to actively apply your awareness through acknowledging and valuing Indigenous people, culture and history is an important part of responding. Some suggestions include:
› Incorporating Acknowledgement of Country into emails, websites and printed materials. Find out why and how
› Recognising Indigenous events in your personal and professional calendars (resource coming soon)
› Recognising significant cultural sites locally and nationally
› Learning about the cultural history of where you live
Still unsure where or how to start?
We recommend you start locally. Most local Councils have information about Indigenous people who lived in, and continue to have connections with, the area, as well as local events and significant sites. Visiting a local gallery, museum or Indigenous-led event will help you see your direct connection to a shared story, both historically and today. Starting locally also tends to be easier and less costly, with greater potential for building long-term relationships. Engaging locally demonstrates respect for Indigenous people in your community. If you seek to engage with an Indigenous leader or community, be aware that there’s a lot of pressure put on Indigenous people to engage with non-Indigenous communities on their terms. For example, Indigenous people are often requested to do a Welcome to Country at non-Indigenous events. The one-sided nature of this engagement can become draining for Indigenous people.
Before you invite Indigenous people to participate in your events, we recommend that you take the opportunity to support public Indigenous events. If you seek to build genuine and authentic relationships with Indigenous people in your community, your journey to creating respectful responses will have begun.
What is the Australians Together approach?
The Australians Together Approach is designed to help develop and maintain respectful relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous. The Australians Together Approach advocates:
1. Valuing relationships: Meaningful solutions are possible when people put relationships first. Working in partnerships:
2. Working in genuine partnerships can create lasting change.
3. Reflecting on self: People understand others better when they are self-aware.
4. Committing long-term: Respectful relationships and healthy partnerships are possible when people are focussed on long-term connections rather than short-term outcomes.
5. Reimagining solutions: Coming together makes it possible for people to build better solutions for the future.
However you choose to respond, we recommend you approach it as an ongoing process, not a once-off experience. With every step you take in your journey you’ll be making a difference in our nation. The following are examples of how the Australians Together approach has worked in schools: